LIMA — Gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine announced a new series of policies, known as his kids agenda, in late June, and Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, visited The Lima News Monday to explain some of the ideas behind an estimated $190 million in additional annual investment into expansions of early childhood programs that he said will help reverse welfare dependency.
“We view kids as the innocent victims of some of these failures, and we’re angry and frustrated about it,” Husted said. “And we want to do something about it. That’s why we led our policy agenda with kids, because they are the innocent victims of the adults who didn’t do what they needed to do to support them for one reason or another.”
Included among DeWine’s kids agenda is raising eligibility standards from 130 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level for those using early childhood programs, increasing the number of home visits for early childhood development and ensuring a school resource officer and mental health professional is stationed at every school.
Husted was asked about the taxpayer cost of some of DeWine’s agenda items.
“I don’t know what it is off top of my head, but I know the state budget pretty well, and I believe that there are a variety of ways that we can fund this,” Husted said.
In an article reported by Cleveland.com, DeWine spokesman Josh Eck estimated the cost of both the increased home visits and additional funding for early childhood programs at a combined $190 million.
“Life is kind of a race in many ways for these kids. When you start way back here against the rest of the world, it’s pretty hard for you. We want to give you a fair shot,” Husted said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to give the kid the opportunity to live the American dream, to have a shot at the American dream.”
DeWine’s Democratic opponent, Richard Cordray, ran his primary campaign on what he called “kitchen table issues” — which he clarified as economic opportunities, access to healthcare and education during his visits to Lima prior to the primary election.
“We do have a proactive agenda on kids, on families, on workforce, and the economy, and those are the kinds of things that we will continue to talk about and emphasize on the campaign. And for me, I’m not aware of much of anything that Richard Cordray’s come out about that’s positive,” Husted said.
Democrats have challenged DeWine’s kids agenda because it does not include backing Ohio’s Medicaid expansion.
Husted disagreed with the idea as the Medicaid expansion covers single adults without children. He said the question of supporting or being against the state’s Medicaid expansion has created a false dichotomy surrounding the issue.
“That’s a false choice,” Husted said. “It’s not: ‘Are you for or against it?’ It’s: ‘How do you make it accountable and sustainable for the future?’ — what we call the third way. And you will see us very soon making an announcement about what that means. We’re not for the status quo. We’re for shaking things up, making them sustainable and accountable.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.